Loyola alum Elliot Collier making early impact for Fire

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Minnesota United midfielder Sam Nicholson (12) dribbles past Fire forward Elliot Collier (28) during a game earlier this season in Minneapolis. | Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

This would be an exciting time for rookie Fire forward Elliot Collier even if he weren’t starting his MLS career. A Loyola alum who knows Sister Jean Dolores-Schmidt and many of the players and members of the athletic-department support staff, Collier has watched the Ramblers’ run to the Final Four with amazement and pride.

“It’s pretty crazy. Going into the tournament, I had confidence they would win the first game, and then I was like, ‘It would be pretty cool if we won our first game and then see what happens afterwards,’ ” Collier said. “We just keep winning. It’s crazy. It’s pretty awesome.”

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Like his alma mater, Collier also is beating the odds.

Not much is usually expected from rookies drafted in the third round. The Fire took Collier 49th overall after a four-year career with the Ramblers. But he scored his first goal in a loss to Minnesota United FC on March 17 and has shown he has the potential to provide depth and maybe more for the Fire (0-2), who host the Portland Timbers (0-2-1) on Saturday.

Collier knows the history of third-round picks and isn’t shying away from it.

“Not a lot of people expect a lot from a third-round pick, but when you’re on the field and you’re playing, none of that matters,” Collier said. “It doesn’t matter if you were drafted first in the first round. It just matters what’s on the field. I try to keep focused in practice and keep working hard and learning from my teammates and just doing what I can going forward.”

Collier — whose focus will be tested in another way because Loyola’s game against Michigan conflicts with the Fire’s match against the Timbers — said it was difficult to know what to expect in his rookie season.

“I just knew I was going to come in and work hard and do what I can to make an impact and do what I can to help the team,” Collier said. “I didn’t expect this, but I’m happy with how everything’s going and just got to do what I can to help the team.”

As a forward, Collier’s goals for the season are clear.

“Scoring goals is a big part,” Collier said. “And I want to be getting assists and I just want to be getting minutes and basically making the most of this first year and getting experience and use that going -forward.”

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